WARNING: Binge-watching a television series is hazardous to your health. We’ve all read the warnings so I did take a break after episode three for one hour and went back for three more episodes. What does that say? I’m fat and unhealthy because I watch too much TV? No, it means that Netflix hit it out of the park again as far as I’m concerned.
After being sucked into the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, I have a growing admiration for the mind of this writer after seeing Alias Grace. However, I never have time to read (only write), so picking up a book adaptation on screen now and then works for me. The downside, of course, is I will never know what is better – the book or the series.
Alias Grace is a wonderful and intriguing story that pulls you along slowly. However, I will warn you up front that if you don’t like listening to one woman with an Irish accent narrate and talk for hours on end, this series is not for you. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a period drama set in the mid-Victorian period about a woman imprisoned for committing murder, take a seat and grab the remote.
After spending 15 years in prison, Grace has become somewhat of a celebrity murderess for her participation in a ghastly murder that breeds public fascination. A group wants to see her released from prison so they invite a well-known psychiatrist to do an assessment of her mental state. Dr. Simon Jordan (played by Edward Holcroft) interviews Grace. In the process, while he attempts to ascertain her criminal mind, he becomes entangled in his own emotions of seemingly falling for this delicate but complicated creature. As the interviews continue, you wonder how much of Grace’s story is told for his benefit or her own as she weaves the tale.
Sarah Gadon who plays Grace is an excellent choice for this demure young lady from a poor upbringing. After immigrating from Ireland to Canada, she leaves home and works as a maid. It’s here that she meets another servant girl who becomes her best friend. When she passes away, she decides to depart for a new employment situation. It brings her into a difficult scenario with a lecherous boss and his housekeeper/mistress who is unlikeable and often cruel. Another servant, James McDermott, has had enough of his job and plots to kill their employers, dragging Grace into the mix.
The interesting and mind-boggling outcome of the search for her guilt and innocence will surprise you as it draws you into the lives of these characters. Apparently based on a true-to-life sensationalized murder that happened in Canada in 1843, Margaret Atwood takes the story to a new level for her readers. Netflix has added that dimension for its viewers, leaving you with the not-so-concrete answer of her participation in the dastardly murders.
For each 44-minute episode, it’s worth risking your health for the four and half hours spent in the chair in front of the television. Highly recommended.